Just for Catholics - Testimonies

A Seminarian in Search for Forgiveness

By Gearoid Marley

I was brought up in a Roman Catholic family in Ireland. My parents taught me to live a good life, say my prayers and attend mass every Sunday. I believed in God but I didnít know Him personally. I prayed as my mother had taught me but I never knew whether God was listening or not. Conscious of my sinfulness, I hoped that God would accept me into Heaven if I did enough good to others. It was like balancing the accounts, hoping that my credits (good deeds) would cancel my debits (my sins). I tried to live the best life and do my best to please God. I decided to become a Roman Catholic priest when I was eleven year of age.

However during my teenage years I got involved in much sinful and immoral behaviour. I hated that miserable life and I started to cry out to God. The desire to be right with Him became the focus of my life. I knew I was a sinner and that I needed to be saved from my sin. I wanted to know His forgiveness, but how?

Training for the Priesthood

Once again I thought seriously about becoming a priest. After checking different religious organizations, I finally decided to join the Society of Missions to Africa (SMA). They live together in small communities in different parts of the world converting pagans to the Roman religion. I entered the Roman Catholic Seminary to train for the priesthood. During my two-year stay in the seminary, I learned much about religion but there was nothing to ease my guilty conscience and to cleanse my heart from sin. I attended mass daily and heard many homilies that were focused on pleasing God by doing good works and for us to use psychology to help people. Not once did I hear how to be forgiven!

I started to read the Bible (a Protestant version my parents gave me). My superiors were not too pleased, so they gave me a Roman Catholic version. I asked serious questions to the priests but they could not show me the Scriptural basis for much of the superstition and religious rituals in the Roman Catholic religion. The Bible does not promote the veneration of Mary as practiced in the Catholic Church, nor does it teach us to say ritualistic prayers like the rosary, which are addressed to Mary. I was told that I had to go to confession to a priest but I didnít find that in Scripture either.

I began to read the Bible every day and learned more about the Lord Jesus. Eventually I left the Roman religion. Yet at that time I still did not know forgiveness of my sins. When I came to London I met a man who told me how to know God and how to be forgiven for my sinful rebellion against God. He gave me a leaflet that emphasized the need to trust in Jesus Christ alone. I read this leaflet many times yet I did not find peace with God.

I began studying as a nurse and met some students who seemed to really know God. I attended their church, Trinity Road Chapel, in London. There were copies of the Bible in the church and the sermon was preached from the Bible. That was something completely new to me. I was also impressed by the way they prayed because it was evident that they knew God in a personal and intimate way. I had never heard anything like it. I knew deep down that these people were genuine Christians. I asked many questions and began to attend church services regularly.

My Conversion

I was listening to a Sunday service on Radio 4 one morning. The sermon was about the Good Samaritan. The preacher spoke of Jesus Christ as the Good Samaritan, who comes to help us in our wretched sinful state. The preacher urged the listeners to trust in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of sin. Right there and then I knelt down in my room and prayed, ďO God, I know that you have sent your Son Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners. Will you save me? I trust in Christ alone and ask that you would come into my life by the power of your Holy Spirit and make me new.Ē

As soon as I opened my eyes a deep sense of peace came over me. At that moment I knew that I was a Christian and truly forgiven. I was baptised at Trinity Road Chapel in London in September 1998. After my baptism I struggled with temptations and trials, but the Lord was my constant refuge and my fellowship with Him blossomed.

Since my conversion, the Bible is no longer a closed and unintelligible book. Now the Bible is Godís Word speaking to me, and leading me to follow His will. I began to pray to God as my Father and knew that He was listening. The peace of God fills my heart, and I enjoy the fellowship of many Christian brothers and sisters.

I am especially thankful to one man from our church who helped me study the Bible over a two-year period, teaching me about the Lord and his glorious work in creation and salvation through the cross of Jesus.

On my first visit to Ireland, I did not know of any Christian church, so I went to Mass with my parents. I realised that the priest was re-enacting a sacrifice that was done once and for all on the cross of Calvary. For this reason, I could not attend the Catholic mass any longer. I left the Roman church for good.

I pray that many Roman Catholics would read their Bibles and pray to the Lord to lead them to the truth. The Lord promises that those who seek Him with all their hearts will find Him.

My friend, if you want to know how to be freed from the guilt of your sins, I encourage you to turn to Jesus Christ by faith. He alone is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). We need no other mediator between us and God, ĎThere is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus who gave His life a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:5). Trust in Him alone! Please do not delay another moment! Seek Him with all your heart, and you will find Him, just as He promised.